Aamok was basically producer Conny Plank´s own Novelty/Krautrock-project. Plank himself even did the drawing of an evil Santa, complete with bloody knife, gun and what looks like a corpse hanging from his bag. But Aaamok was also a short-lived Krautrock label, operated by Conny Plank and Wilken F. Müller, that never really took off. This promotional Holiday record was one of the few items that were published, that actually carried the name Aamok.
The proto-punk Christmas song Deutsches Weihnachts-Potpourri (German Christmas medley) sounds like it could have been released by Mad magazine….
Wilken F. Müller created the silence…
Just noticed that the last post was my 700th post since I started this blog in 2007. To celebrate all these wasted years, here´s another flexible Birthday 78rpm postcard record, published by the London based Melody Cards company. These postcard records offer perfect copyright-friendly blog material: anonymous artists, no copyright noted, 50 plus years old and of course never reissued.
Plus, underneath the crackles and pops, a pretty silly song.
No washboard though….
Happy, Happy Birthday!
Happy, Happy Birthday!
On this anniversary of the day that you were born.
Let´s git goin´ down the track,
Once I´se there ain´t comin´ back,
Git those presents on the rack
Of the WASHBOARD BIRTHDAY SPECIAL
Found this last Thursday in a local thrift store for one euro and, because of the nondescript sleeve, thought it was just another advertisement record. At home, the two songs really blew me away! Two great beat/krautrock songs on this one! A quick check on the Internet revealed that Smoking takes you faster to God has been reissued in the late 90s on the “Kraut! Demons! Kraut! – German Psychedelic Underground 1968-1974″ CD bootleg comp, compiled by none other than the late Werner Voran aka The Lolly Pope. Apparently this is quite a rare Krautrock 45 that somebody is currently trying to sell on Ebay for 100 euros. Hopefully to no avail.
Unlike most musicians who played in 1960s beat groups, former Heart of Blues bassist Norbert Maislein-Sylvester, cares for his musical legacy, and loaded Smoking takes you faster to God, including some info about the band, up on Youtube, himself. He even illustrated the video with the Kraut! Demons! Kraut! bootleg CD image, instead of the original sleeve that you see above. Heart of Blues, a popular R&B Band who played around the Munich area, were: Graf Amadeus von Donnersmarck, guitar; Norbert Maislein-Sylvester bass; Henny Stadler, vocals; Peter Stadler, keyboard and Rudi Zöttel, drums. Some former members still play in Munich bands today.
No info, however, on Munich Express found on the Internet. Their Nebellungenlied is a well done combination of funny lyrics in the 3 Travellers vein, set to beat music.
This is a perfect record for Berlin Beatet Bestes: it´s a beat record, it´s got a cartoon sleeve and it´s an advertisement record, containing music with a practical purpose. Ironically, while Krautrock is considered to be underground music, these songs were actually commissioned by the German government. In 1969 Heart of Blues and Munich Express won a contest, launched by minister of family affairs Käte Strobel, for “Best Anti-Smoking Song”
Well, thanks German government, for cutting these two wonderful sides for eternity!
I think I´m going to light one up right now, to get a little faster to god…
A bit of trivia:
As you can see on the labels, this 45 was pressed at Schallplattenfabrik Pallas out of Diepholz, Lower Saxony, a family-owned company that has produced records since 1948. On the 1st of April 2013, a mass fire destroyed their CD-manufacturing building, causing an estimated damage of 10 million euros. The factory building where Pallas is pressing vinyl, a business they had bravely held onto all through the worst part of the 90s until now, was miraculously left intact.
A sign from above?
It´s hard to believe today, that Germany´s “Bible Belt”, way down in the south, used to be a hotbed of communist activity, dating back to the Bavarian Soviet Republic of 1918/1919. In the late 1960s, a group of communist musicians, the Münchner Songgruppe, were still rallying for the revolution.
Dürer-Lied deals with the public celebration of the 500th anniversary of the birth of Renaissance artist Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528). Sung in Franconian dialect, it claims that, in contrast to the official appraisal by the Bavarian upper class and conservative political elite, “Dürer´s warm painter´s heart was close to the peasants.” It points out, that the capitalists do not own Dürer and that “Not before that mob is gone, will we, the workers – the peasants of today – finally “own” Dürer. Everything for the workers – Nothing for the corporations. You don´t own shit!
“…und Euch gehört ein Dreck!”
Recorded live in Nürnberg in 1971.
Lied vom Bayernland is a bold criticism of the ownership structure in Bavaria. The catchy chorus links the notorious head of the Bavarian governement Franz Josef Strauß and his “gang” to the Neo-Nazis, calling them “Bavaria´s worst plague”.
“Strauß und seine Bazis/ und die Neo-Nazis, / die sind Bayern größe Plag.”
Recorded live at the Arbeiterlieder-Festival in Essen in 1970.
The leftist Pläne label was most probably the oldest German independent label. Founded in 1961, their records were initially sold independently through grass roots distribution. In the 1980s it changed distribution to Rough Trade, still mostly focusing on political singer-songwriter material, but also releasing a heap of extraordinary rock, jazz, and even some punk/new wave records. Almost unnoticed by the German entertainment industry, Pläne went out of business, after 50 years, in 2011.
Most people will probably only shrug their shoulders when they hear these songs, but to me this record seems almost unreal. It´s like this record was made for Berlin Beatet Bestes and on so many levels!
1. It is an advertisement record,
2. It was privately pressed for a Berlin car dealer
3. It´s got a cartoon sleeve
4. The two risqué songs are sung by local Berlin star Brigitte Mira, an actress who frequently worked with Fassbinder
5. The music is in sort of a Dixieland Jazz style
6. Of course it´s also never been reissued.
What more can I ask for?
In a way these two risqué songs, backed by Heinrich Riethmüller, predate Brigitte Mira´s bold later work. For some unknown reason the Berlin car dealer Bunde had the idea to advertize for his business with some naughty songs. Some sleeves even had “Der kesse Gruss vom Autohaus Bunde” ( Naughty greetings from Autohaus Bunde) stamped on the front. You can see this stamp on a copy that some greedy person is trying to sell on Ebay for the ridiculous amount of 35 Euros. Of course nobody will ever buy it. Listen to the songs and you´ll see why. Last week I paid less than 50 cents in a thrift store and I think that´s much more appropriate. Most likely it was the name that got the seller to put a higher price tag on this record.
Brigitte Mira (1910-2005) was most famous for the work she did with Rainer Werner Fassbinder. It was Fassbinder´s genius to cast people like Brigitte Mira for his art films. She had been a popular German actress since the 1940s, but was mostly known for her comedies. Mira´s personal courage made her steer off the beaten path and towards serious, more challenging roles, like in Ali:Fear Eats The Soul (1974).
By the early 70s Fassbinder regularly worked for German television. “Wie ein Vogel auf dem Draht” was a TV-show directed by Fassbinder for Brigitte Mira. German television never got more campy than this:
Despite her adventurous career, in the eyes of the majority of the German public, Brigitte Mira remained „the archetypal funny old Berlinerin with a heart.” (The Guardian). But in the 70s Brigitte Mira basically had two careers, appearing in cutting-edge art films and also starring in funny popular films and on television (most prominently in the series Drei Damen vom Grill).
Finally: the music.
Die alte Clofrau translates to “The Old Toilet Lady”. In the song she tells the story of her life as a bathroom attendant. A blues song about how she flushes the toilet for the very last time…
Triebwagen is railcar, but Trieb also means sex drive. Mit dem Triebwagen nach Italien translates to “Travelling to Italy by railcar”. The lyrics deal with the cliché that Italian men are sexually potent. So horny female German tourists travel to Italy in search of sexual adventures…
The artwork of this record is not signed. I have a vague suspicion who could have done it but so far I can not put a name to it.
I like the loose brush work of the anonymous artist. I think it´s pretty cool cartoon-style drawing, especially for a simple advertisement record. Unfortunately the designers didn´t know that the drawing would make the sleeve really stand out and scaled it waaaaay too much. Only to make room for an over-sized clef in the center. Such stupid design “decisions” are still the norm today in graphic design. An intricate two dimensional drawing that takes some effort and hand craft to produce, is reduced in favor of a boring one dimensional sign. A meaningless sign that takes up all the space, so that the delicate brush work of the artist is reduced to blurry lines. I´ll try to rectify that “mistake” after 53 years by showing a magnified version of the drawing for the first time:
The record is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Opel 72 Wagen Klub.
Bill Ramsey´s German cover version Wumba-Tumba Schokoladeneisverkäufer vom andern Stern of Sheb Wooley´s Purple People Eater reached #4 in the German Charts in 1958. On Thursday I found a budget version of that song, released by the Opera label out of Stuttgart, in a nearby thrift store. I had seen a copy of the record on Ebay before, but since I don´t buy stuff on the Internet, I had to wait until I came across it by coincidence. On Ebay it probably wouldn´t have been 50 Cents either.
No info about Trio Sorrento on the Internet but contrary to many budget artist they were a real group, who´s music however did also appear on cheapo labels like Opera, Neckermann and Baccarola. An article in Spiegel from January 1954 about East German restrictions on “decadent” western musical styles, like the Boogie Woogie, also mentions the trio:
On October 6th 1953 four stocky soviet directors ejected Trio Sorrento (formerly with Berlin radio station Rias) from a cultural center in East Berlin, because the group´s musical repertory (“Junge,Junge, Junge”, “Mäcki-Boogie”, “Schaschlik-Boogie”) had caused the attending young workers to applaud demonstratively. (Spiegel, Jan.1954, “Barrieren um Boogie Woogie”)
This version of Wumba-Tumba Schokoladeneisverkäufer vom andern Stern was made to sound almost identical to Ramsey´s version. It´s still quite different, but since I won´t post Bill Ramsey´s version, just take my word for it…
Jody Reynolds song of teenage tragedy Endless Sleep reached #5 in the Billboard Charts in 1958. Reynolds follow-up Fire of Love from the same year, only went to #66, but achieved cult status 25 years later when The Gun Club covered it.
The original German version of Endless Sleep was recorded by the James Brothers (Schlager singers Peter Kraus and Jörg Maria Berg), who were put together to emulate the Everly Brothers. In true budget manner the Opera label producers simply called their brothers the Johnson Brothers.
The two-colored illustration on the back of the sleeve should have been on the front. The drawing is what´s remarkable about this record. Why is the illustration on the back then? I can only imagine how the story must have been, but from my experience as an illustrator, it´s always the same thing. Regular Opera releases only had writing on the back. Because they had two rock´n´roll songs on the record, the record label people must have had the feeling that they should give the teenagers a little more to look at. They liked the commissioned drawing, but still decided against putting it on the cover, because they couldn´t depart from their concept that all their sleeves in this series needed to have the bland purple design!